October alfalfa price remains steady

By Mike Rankin

The average price of U.S. alfalfa hay held firm at $171 per ton, exactly the same as the September price and $7 per ton lower than one year ago. The latest USDA Agricultural Prices report pegged other hay (mostly grass) at $132 per ton, $7 higher than the previous month and $1 above last year’s October price.

The average price for alfalfa hay has held remarkably stable for many months. The last time it was significantly out of the $170 to $180 per ton range was July 2019. The high-water mark for 2020 occurred in April when the price averaged $181 per ton.

Five states registered a double-digit price improvement, led by Wisconsin at $11 per ton higher. Colorado, New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington were all $10 per ton above the previous month’s price.

Only one state had a double-digit alfalfa price decline for October, and that was Oklahoma at $19 per ton lower.

The highest average alfalfa hay prices were reported in Pennsylvania ($245 per ton), New Mexico ($225), Kentucky ($215), Oregon ($210), and Colorado ($200).

The lowest prices were posted in North Dakota ($83 per ton), Nebraska ($108), and South Dakota ($109).

Keep in mind that the USDA average prices account for all qualities of hay sold. Also, the final U.S. estimate is a volume-weighted average rather than a simple average of state values. Those states with the most volume sales will impact the final U.S. dollar value more than those states with fewer sales.

Supreme and Premium

The USDA also tracks the prices of Supreme and Premium quality alfalfa in the major dairy states and determines an average price from the five leading milk-producing states. This data is being used to determine feed prices in the Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program.

For October, the average price of Supreme and Premium alfalfa hay moved higher by $2 per ton to $192. One year ago, the average price of Supreme and Premium alfalfa hay was $205 per ton.

Other hay

The October average price of other hay averaged $132 per ton. The highest average price achieved in 2020 were in July and August, which both averaged $137 per ton.

The highest prices for hay other than alfalfa were reported in Colorado ($215 per ton), Washington ($210), and Nevada ($190).

States with the lowest reported other hay average prices were North Dakota ($72 per ton), South Dakota ($84), and Nebraska ($88).